Instagram is a great tool that, if used right, can separate Unicorn businesses from Donkey businesses.
If you follow the news, you know that the app has been dealing out a lot of changes recently, and it seems a new one is afoot.
Instagram has eliminated the Instagram “following activity tab” in the app.
The Instagram following activity tab, previously located in the “likes” section of the app, showed what content the accounts one follows were liking. By viewing the following activity tab, you were able to see the activity of all of the other users you followed.
Losing this tab means a few things for business, especially marketers who used this tab for audience insights and competitive content analysis. Read on for my take and replacement Facebook power tools.
Spoiler alert: Expect even more changes ahead.
Who Used the Instagram Following Activity Tab?
Did you use the Instagram following activity tab?
According to Insta, the Instagram following activity tab was not used frequently by most users.
It’s rather hidden and, compared to the feature that shows a user who is liking their photos, probably isn’t that useful or important to the everyday Instagram user.
As you’ll read in related news coverage, the Instagram following activity tab was a favorite of users who liked to “stalk” the activity of their friends and celebrities.
However, the Instagram following activity tab was also used by businesses.
It was a handy tool to see what users were liking, providing insights into the popular social channel’s audience, likes and best performing content.
File this feature under “discontinued business insights tool in Facebook products.”
(We learn not to get too attached to any marketing tool after a while in the digital marketing business.)
But the death of the Instagram following activity tab is not the end of the world for marketing professionals.
What Can Businesses Use in Place of the Instagram Following Activity Tab?
There’s a number of features and tools that businesses can use to replace the Instagram following activity tab now that it’s gone.
If you’re looking for insights about what the Instagram audience is liking, there’s another great way to see what audiences are consuming on Instagram — the explore feed.
The Instagram explore feed mimics the Instagram following activity tab in that it displays content that users that one follows are liking.
It will also provide new content to discover based on one’s own Instagram activity.
If businesses pay attention to the Instagram explore feed in place of the Instagram following activity tab, they can gain insights into audience behavior, popular content and what’s trending.
Additionally, Instagram offers business tools that are far more useful than the Instagram following activity tab.
Instagram Business offers in-app metrics and promotion options.
And, as always, a great way to make sure your business is performing well on Instagram is to use the app expertly.
Make sure you have an aesthetically appealing grid of content on your page. Post once a day. Interact with your audiences.
What Other Changes is Instagram Making?
We have to ask why Instagram made this change now.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Instagram head of product, Vishal Shah, said, “Simplicity was the driving factor.”
Streamlining the design of Instagram will help focus the app on what is essential.
This is key for the app to foster continued engagement by users.
And it focuses the mission of businesses using Instagram for marketing: creating and supplying the best content and advertising possible to increase reach and engagement for audiences.
The discontinuation of the Instagram following activity tab is not the only change that Instagram has pushed out recently.
And it’s not the last change that the app has planned.
In the next year, users can expect more changes for the platform, including a separate Instagram DM app that is live in the internal user testing phase.
Messaging is the fastest growing method of online communication and it’s about to be easier than ever for businesses to utilize its benefits.
The integration of Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Whatsapp will simplify marketing, as businesses will not have to create and use different tools for each of the apps separately. For example, a business will not have to make a separate chatbot for their Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Whatsapp platforms.
So while businesses might be losing a handy insights tool in the discontinuation of the Instagram following activity tab, the changes add up to a more engaged audience and more platforms for customer engagement and reach.
Stay tuned for what else Instagram and the rest of the Facebook family has in store.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.